Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Nature's alarm system (Blue Jays and chickadees) alerted me to something in the yard a few minutes ago. Looked out the window and sure enough, sitting right on top of one of the feeder stations was this gorgeous immature Sharp-shinned Hawk:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Appreciating A Black Squirrel

We're up at the cabin in Lakeshore (for the now-cancelled ice fishing extravaganza) and are enjoying watching the resident black squirrel. We've discovered she's a female. Yep, believe it or not it's mating season in the frozen northland. Eastern Gray Squirrels, which is what this black squirrel is, have their babies in late February or early March; a 44 day gestation period.

If you're a blogger and have a squirrel story, share it via Pintrest or Twitter (#squirrelday). Here are more ways to share your squirreliness.

For more information on black squirrels, here's my post from a year ago.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Favorite Finch Feeder

I worked with a wild bird store for years and always loved hearing what feeders people use in their yards. A network of other bird lovers is the best way to find new ideas on how to attract birds to our yards.

So, I thought I'd share my favorite Nyjer seed feeder with all of you: a heavy duty, stainless steel model from Birds Choice.

During irruption years like this, every inch of the feeder has some species of finch clinging to it. Even the chickadees change up their diet every now and then by coming to it. During the summer it's filled with goldfinches and the occasional Indigo Bunting that's brave enough to cling to the feeder instead of perching on the Nyjer tube feeders we have in our yard.

I've never had the seed mildew in the feeder (they empty it too fast!), but I think in damp areas (like the Pacific Northwest) that could be an issue.

And no, I don't receive anything for posting this - just hoping to share ideas with fellow bird lovers!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Muskrat Susie, Muskrat Sam...

During a recent trip to the cabin we enjoyed watching a muskrat take advantage of nice weather and thin ice. It spent most of every daylight hour going up and down out of two ice holes, pulling up long strands of weeds and what looked like lily pad roots.

Muskrats do not hibernate, but they're usually not this visible at this point in the winter either. They spend most of the winter in their lodge (those large rounded mounds you see out in lakes) sleeping and eating.

They're still trapped for their fur, but even without the threat of traps, muskrats lead very short lives (one year is common, two or three years is rare). They make up for this by having as many as four litters a year though, starting in early March.

Here's a close-up of a muskrat at WRC for those who haven't seen one before. They essentially look like a small beaver with a long, naked tail (and don't worry, her other hand is gloved - they have very sharp teeth!):

And, just because it wouldn't be right to leave this out, here's the link to Muskrat Love. Enjoy!